1

How contemporary Western's culture (and morale in particular) got formed out of two quite contradictory sources: Hellenism (revived during Renaissance) and Christianity - have those contradictions been resolved by now?

I will accept as the satisfactory answer if anyone would address one of the two following subquestions:

1)Specifically what about modern mass attitude (noticeable especially in USA ) with regards to certain values, such as towards considering personal appearance being more important than spiritual being and cult of the body, towards indulgence in sports and disregarding education?

2)Also what about dominance of atheism in Academical science ...

Do those two came as influence of Hellenism rather than from Christianity ?

  • 2
    This is an extremely broad question. I'd recommend reading something by Charles Taylor who addresses these kind of long-arc historical claims. – virmaior Aug 11 '14 at 3:03
  • @virmaior There is no such thing as being "too broad" in philosophical questions. But there are narrow minds, who refuse to ponder on such questions. – Alex Aug 11 '14 at 3:08
  • 2
    @Alex, I think what virmaior is implying is that there is a lot of material on that subject, perhaps too much for one answer to cover. Nowadays we call the field of classical influences on culture "Reception", and this field will often look at individual authors in the classical tradition and how they have been taken in a Western setting rather than trying to broad-stroke the whole history of classical literature. – Paul Ross Aug 11 '14 at 5:16
  • 3
    There might be no such thing as "too broad" in philosophical questions, but that in no way implies that there is no such thing as questions that are "too broad" for StackExchange sites. – Chris Sunami Aug 11 '14 at 15:46
  • 1
    I think your subquestions would be great ones to ask. For instance, Sport looks to have been deeply influenced by its role in the ancient world as past-time and ritual, and is also something which Christianity (post-renaissance at least) seems to view as a spectacle which can serve as medium for outreach and evangelism. The extent to which the two have synthesised in western attitudes to sport would be a really cool question for cultural theorists. Attitudes to Sex and Gender would be another great platform of comparison. But I'm still not convinced in the value of broad-stroking "culture" – Paul Ross Aug 14 '14 at 16:25
1

Well it is a terribly broad question, but the brief answer is that the apparent contradictions between Greek scientific thought (which is what I assume you mean by 'Hellenism') and Christianity were resolved in the late thirteenth century by Thomas Aquinas. His masterful synthesis became accepted as Catholic doctrine and so it has remained ever since.

Obviously there is a longer story than that, namely how Greek thought was transmitted to the Latin West, how the medieval universities originated, and there is the question of whether there was any continuity between medieval 'scholastic' thought and the early modern 'enlightenment' thought.

I would strongly recommend Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy which is long enough to cover the entire history of two thousand years of thought, but short enough to read in a weekend, if you are a good reader. It's over 50 years old but I have never read a better book. It is also entertaining.

I would also recommend James Hannam's book God's Philosophers, which dispels some of the myths surrounding the Middle Ages, and the role of the 'renaissance'.

|improve this answer|||||
  • What about modern mass attitude (noticeable especially in USA ) with regards to certain values, such as towards considering personal appearance being more important than spiritual being, towards indulgence in sports and disregarding education? Also dominance of atheism in Academical science ... Aren't those came as influence of Hellenism rather than from Christianity ? – Alex Aug 11 '14 at 10:34

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.